Learning to Eat.

Today was day one of developing a skill that Liam will use his entire life.  More than learning a skill I guess… he is building a relationship.  A relationship with food.

Kev and I have chosen to use the “Baby-Led Weaning” approach to feeding Liam. (Don’t worry, I’ll explain that in a sec).  Getting to the 6 month mark to begin this method has been a bit of a task.  2 Doctors, almost all our friends and family and countless marketed ‘essential products’ advising otherwise, and we have finally arrived. Liam has been exclusively breastfeed (except for 1oz of prune juice one time) for 6 whole months.  He’s is alive, thriving and well – despite all the wives tales about babies wasting away if not fed rice cereal from 4 months of age.

The first marker of being ‘ready’ to eat is being able to sit up on his own for an extended period of time.  Liam met that marker 6 weeks ago.  The second marker is being interested in eating.  Well, Liam has been mimicking for almost always really, but has been reaching for what we are eating for the last 2 weeks.  The final marker is to be 6 months old.  Here we are.

So, to define “Baby-Led Weaning” first we should talk about what it isn’t.  BLW is NOT; purees,  it’s not spoon feeding, it’s not making special food for baby, or freezing things in ice cube trays.  It’s not using special mush making machines, or fancy apparatuses that need 90 minutes clean up each time. BLW is simply – feeding baby the family’s food.  Baby eats what you eat.  You have fruit and toast for breakfast – so should baby.  You have a grilled cheese sandwich and salad for lunch, so does baby.  Roast dinner?  He can dive in! Sound easy?  That is the point!

“It’s a way of introducing solid foods that allows the baby to feed himself  The baby sits with the rest of the family at mealtimes, and joins in when he is ready. His parents offer him food in sizes and shapes that he can handle and he feeds himself with his fingers, choosing what to eat, how much and how quickly. All healthy babies can do this. They don’t need their parents to decide when weaning should start and they don’t need to be spoon-fed; they just need to be given the opportunity to feed themselves. Baby-led weaning allows babies to grow into confident, skilled and happy eaters.”

Happy eater?!!  Yes please!  The idea of having to sit down 3 times a day with a long ergonomically bent spoon trying to force down jarred mush into Liam’s mouth just made us cringe.  Never mind the fact that finding the time to do this, and still be able to go to cool baby groups and run errands and visit friends etc just didn’t compute.

So, I know most of you are cringing.  “But they will choke”… right?  Relax.  There is no higher risk of them choking than being fed from a spoon. In fact, there is less risk. When a baby is being fed from a spoon, by someone else, he has absolutely no control over what goes in, how much and how often.  He can fight off future spoonfuls, but he gets what he gets.  Generally the mush feels the same, but sometimes it tastes different so baby spits it out to look at it and try to decipher why it is different.  Generally, the parent wipes up the spit, cleans off his hands and tries again.  Baby learns nothing. With BLW, he gets to explore the food before it goes in.  He can smell it, see it, touch it, squeeze it and smack it down on his tray to compare it to the other things he has tried all before he ever even tastes it!  To us that seems like a far better experience.  Today was proof that we made the right choice.

The other benefit to BLW is that it means baby is eating from the front of their mouth (instead of wherever to spoon dumps) and therefore learning to chew and manipulate the food around his mouth before it gets anywhere near the throat.  Strengthening the jaw muscles also means that he is priming his jaw for communication as well.  Moving his mouth in new and exciting ways means he will be able to transfer that skill over to forming words sooner.  I don’t know about you guys but, we can’t wait for the days Liam can tell us what he wants/needs!

So, anyways…. Liam had his first meal this morning.

Cucumber, Banana, Apricot and Beef

I guess he really is ready to eat!

We sat him in his new high chair and gave him his new water cup (to help rinse out the food between ‘courses’) and his fork (to stab the food he cant pick up).

Big fan of the cup.  Not yet mastered.  I should have filled it to the brim so he didn’t have to tip it so much.

The fork is not really necessary at this point, but we thought he could use the practice of getting the right end in his mouth.

Ok, cup: check, fork: check.

Hold your breath, prime your camera… here comes his first ‘bite’…..

I just put it on the tray and he began to eat… no instructions needed!

Okay – the more exciting thing is the video…


Cucumber

He survived!!!!

Onto Banana…

Bananas are kind of slippery!

Banana

And then Apricot.

Apricots have high iron… good for baby.  Downside – they taste weird.

Apricot

And finally Beef.

Meat didn’t go so well… wasn’t cut BIG enough.  Tried to stab it for him, but he just preferred the fork by that point. 

Beef

To the skeptics… he did not gag or choke even once.  I’ll let you know if her ever does 🙂

His official ‘Eating Shirt”

Liam would like the final word…

Final Word On BLW

(I have never heard him talk this much all at once… can you believe it is working already! )  hehehe

If anyone would like to read more on BLW I highly recommend this book

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One response to this post.

  1. I wish I could post a pic in reply. My baby girl is currently covered in yogurt that she is feeding herself, after having homemade pizza as the main course. Good work Laura! Good work Liam!

    Reply

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